Simple Stoic Advice
The beautiful thing about Stoic philosophy is the advice contained within it is just as applicable today as it was when it was first written all those many years ago. We can learn a great deal from interpreting the advice provided and using it to our advantage as we go throughout our own lives.
Today’s quote comes to us courtesy of Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.57:
“To love only what happens, what was destined. No greater harmony.”
The majority of us believe that our fates are entirely up to us. With the “happiness” industry that has sprouted up over the last 20 years, we are often told by gurus or specialists that if only we want something, we can have it, that we control our own lives and destinies.
The Stoics took a different approach. The Stoics believed in a deterministic or mechanistic approach to fate meaning they believed in cause and effect, one thing leading to another.
At the same time, they accepted that there were too many things outside of their control that would allow them to truly “control” their fate.
Cleanthes, the second head of the Stoic school, once said:
“The willing are led by fate, the reluctant dragged.”
While we do not have full control over our fates, we do have control over our reactions to events. This is why Marcus reminds himself to not just accept fate but love whatever it is that comes. By loving and accepting whatever fate is dealt to him, he is reminding himself that he can choose to use the situation to his advantage. Just because we do not control our fates fully doesn’t mean we cannot use them to our advantage. As he states in book eight of Meditations:
“Just as nature takes every obstacle, every impediment, and works around it — turns it to its purposes, incorporates it into itself — so, too, a rational being can turn each setback into raw material and use it to achieve its goal.”
Understand that you have control over your actions. Your actions dictate what happens within your life. But you ultimately do not fully control your fate so learn to play the dice as they lie and turn any impediment or obstacle into an advantage by learning from the experience.
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